Hacking Preaching

I’ve been preaching in churches for donkey’s years now, but recently I’ve felt that I’ve needed a change of scenery and have felt a bit of a push to explore what else I might do with the experience I’ve gained there.

I still want somehow to take life experience, faith and story, weave it into words and perform it to other people, I want to hack it in other words. Take the essence of it and reshape it. That’s led me to writing quite a bit of poetry and taking a few steps into performance poetry by reading at some open mic nights. Some of it works best as a performance, and so to share it with you I’ll have to record it. Other poetry works just fine on the screen.

I wrote something sketchy today. It came off the back of a letter that the Church of England bishops had put together, nothing wrong with the words. But the words were undermined in the comments below the news articles and the main criticisms were of the status, riches, palaces and general out-of-touchness of bishops. That’s not to say all the individuals behind the purple shirts are complicit, but they do become their rank. I’m pleased that women can now be bishops, but there’s still something not quite right with the whole picture and so I just started writing to see where it took me. Here’s what I came up with.


Girls Wearing Purple

Heroic magenta deserves to be worn by all

But this parody of a royal robe, with priestly crown, jewelled fingers and shepherd’s stick

is a lost belligerence from another time.

It may be redeemed by Tabitha’s hand.

Her task is to restitch this shirt,

sever the link to power and blood.

Those who claim this way, should know that the greatest is a small child

and those who grasp the most rank the least.

As you take your place, make it be at his feet,

the only desperation to be the one who can cling closest to his tongue and memory

be the first to share your jaw-dropping story

mingle your tears with your hair and the dust from the road.

Give a gift of your power to the world

For this is what it is to lead.

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